Monday, March 29, 2010

Searching for nice furniture!

Last weekend we had lunch at Bagels n Beans. Yes, we love the place.

I had ordered a big mochaccino instead of the usual small one, cuz I was thirsty and I wanted to have a treat. Normally, size-wise big is around 1/3 bigger than a small, isn't it? This big was double a small. I had to struggle to finish it!

This place is super popular. We had to share a table with two other guys (who spoke American English btw). And while we were there, they even set out a few stools next to one table and there were two young guys sitting, holding their cups of coffee just like that. It's like... whoa, guys, there is a Delifrance right opposite here, y'know?

After lunch, we walked to Blaak to catch a metro to Alexandrium, where the big furniture mall is.

Well, it's nowhere near as complex as the London Underground.

We got to Alexandrium and walked into several stores, looking for the perfect mirror and office cabinet. One of the shops we went in is called Riviera Maison, they had just opened there and was having a 'housewarming'. It's a really nice shop, but super expensive, even in euros!

This is the shop, but we walked on to the back, where they had actually built a house! The next few pics are of the amazing 'house'. I would love to have a holiday home like this!

I love the dining room.

But I love the laundry room more!!

The louvre doors on their furniture gives such a breezy, holiday feeling.

And just outside is the cafe, which looks equally inviting.

Another style of furnishing I like is the really old, classic, English look. We've already agreed to get one of those styles of bookshelves so that I can roam antique and secondhand bookstores getting old books to fill it with :D

When I first walked into this room, my jaw nearly got dislocated with awe. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall bookshelves! In the classic, old style!

For now, though, I need to get a job and money!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bagels n Beans, Rod Stewart, Indonesian food, V&D retail therapy and my BSN!

A few days ago, Schrobbenmaster and I went to Bagels n Beans just around the corner from our place. I love the place because they have an awesome Tuna Melt & Cheese bagel, plus they're the only place I know which serves mochaccino.

That lady sitting at the next table looked SO MUCH like Rod Stewart from the front angle and with her sunnies on. Omg, seriously, she really did. Think she might be on the homo side, wearing those sort of sunnies (sorry no clearer pic of the rockstar sunnies).

Just surreptitiously snuck a snapshot of the people on my left. The lady is British and she spent most of the time complaining about her life and work to the Dutch guy. Refreshing to hear English spoken by a native English speaker though.

Before our bagel and coffee, we actually went into a shop a few doors away to see if they had any nice big mirrors for the bedroom (for me). Saw this quite nice and affordable one. But it's not the best quality, so we decided to wait and see what good quality mirrors cost first.

And just some scenery from the Hoogstraat (High Street).

I decided to start a Bicycle Chronicles. It won't be as funny as my Motorcycle Chronicles was, but oh well, you take what you can get.

Looks like a secret romance!

Anyway, yesterday I was really craving some retail therapy, so I walked to the V&D (department store) to see what I could find. Found out the Prijzencircus (a really big sale) had started, so I buzzed around some of the clothes.

Tried on a couple dresses, an office skirt and a few blazers. I dunno why I tried the skirt, since I never wear officey stuff. I guess just wanted to see how good I look in a pencil skirt.

I ended up buying just that striped dress. It originally cost €81. Gawd, how can people sell simple jersey dresses for that price! That is really ridiculous. It had been reduced several times and I bought it in the end for €15. Good value, eh?!

I couldn't help camwhoring in the paskamer (changing room).

I went home happily with the dress and a summer blazer from H&M.

Later in the evening, I met Schrobbenmaster at the train station to walk nearby to the Indonesian restaurant for takeaway. It's such a hassle ordering Indonesian food here, seriously.

You know how in the warungs, you just get a plate of rice, then pick whatever you like? Over here they have a menu for you to choose from, if you want separate dishes, or if you want a "Mixed Plate". In this shop, they had a Mixed Plate of two meat and two veg. I ended up choosing that because the price of the single meat and single veg was really high.

The Mixed Plate was €10,75, whereas a single meat dish would be around €5 and a plate of white rice is €3.25. So which is more value? :D

I think we took around 10 minutes to even decide what we wanted. I miss those days of just getting a plate of rice from the pakcik (who always overserves the rice like it doesn't cost €3,25... wait, no, it DOESN'T cost €3.25, hmph) and then just choosing 3 dishes and him saying it costs RM5. And it tastes much better too.

My Mixed Plate of Daging Smoor, Ajam Pedis, long beans and tofu. The telor was complimentary. I love complimentary things!

When we got home, we also got a nice surprise in the mailbox.

My Burgerservicenummer! The equivalent of the Malaysian IC number. So I'm very close to being a legal Dutch resident. Now at least I can open a bank account and have a PIN card to pay for stuff!

No more rookie tourist paying by cash, no no.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I walked into the living room this morning to the light and fragrant smell of my hyacinths, fully bloomed and enveloping the living room and office with its sweetness. Ah, the experience of Spring!

Let me just get rid of the last renovation photos from my desktop now...

Before the living room looked sophisticated, here was me chipping in, removing the carpet.

Got lots of scratches on my fingers whenever my fingers/knuckles accidentally scrape the wooden floor boards. Nothing compared to Schrobbenmaster's bloody and scratched up hands though.

Before the renovation started, I was busy occupying my day going out to the supermarket or shops, getting necessities. One day I decided to stop by the library to check out their English section. Ended up picking this book up.

Looked like a fun read, so I settled in a chair with it.

Pretty cool library with the abundance of oversized lampshades.

I found the paragraph from Hugh Laurie (yes, House M.D.) in the foreword below quite amusing and chuckled aloud. In it, he is defending Wodehouse (the author of Jeeves and Wooster) from critics who say his comedy writing is too 'light'.

It says: "... charging Wodehouse with 'lightness' is not so very far away from accusing painters of relying heavily for their achievement of their effects on paint.".

Good one!

We watched Up In The Air last night, and I wasn't really impressed. The actors did well, but I think either I just expect too much action/comedy/exaggeration from Hollywood films that a simple story about a man who doesn't like to commit to friends/family just seems rather 'blah' to me. Or it could just be that the director didn't make it engaging enough. It just didn't inspire me.

The weekend is nearly here! Might go to Alexandrium to browse for furniture - we still need an office cabinet, a living room rug, a big bedroom mirror and floor protectors for our wheelie office chairs. Ah, the bane of having scratchable floors!

I suddenly realised yesterday that there is now a whole new market for me on Etsy. Instead of just searching for shops in Kuala Lumpur (to save on postage), now I can search in Rotterdam. Hmm, nothing. Searched for Netherlands. Found only ONE shop that I really liked! Even in KL I can find about 5 shops that interest me. Too bad, then.

The one shop I found was good, though, we even ordered an artwork! Should be getting it after Easter, so I'm looking forward to that! :D Will post pictures when we've got it.

House-decorating is so fun :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Garage sale sex change

Last week, Moeder Irma had asked Schrobbenmaster to fix up a poster of a garage sale for her and her friend. Schrobbenmaster looked at her effort and decided that he could do better, so he set to work. After he'd done, I put in my two cents worth as well, telling him that the poster would look friendlier and more neighbourhood-y if he inserted a graphic/clipart.

We scoured the net for garage sale graphics and finally found a good one. Only that it was a man, and our garage sale was organised by two women.

So we decided to *ahem* give him a sex change for free.

When I saw Moeder Irma last weekend, she told us that she liked our poster with the woman graphic on it.


Gotta love Photoshop!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rotterdam vs. Amsterdam

Some people ask me what Rotterdam is like and what kind of place I live in.

I usually end up answering in comparison to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is charming and old.
Rotterdam has ugly buildings and has no charm.

I look at the grand, wide streets of Rotterdam and compare them to the other places I've been to around NL, and I think, "If Rotterdam didn't get bombed in WWII, we would be the grandest-looking city in NL.".

Well, unfortunately, it did get bombed and we ended up with loads of post-war blocks of brick and stone. Functional with no aesthetic.

Then last week, we went to Utrecht and saw the typical Dutch houses and shops, the canals and the cobblestoned streets. Well, what's the difference between that and Amsterdam? Besides having fewer Americans in their caps and windbreakers?

(I like American tourists, btw, they are so nice. And it's amusing how Canadians will wear a Canadian flag somewhere on them to, I dunno, let people know they are not Americans? Haha.)

Now I'm feeling thankful that I live in a - although ugly - unique city. Rotterdam is the only city with towering skyscrapers and wide avenues. My only wish is that they would hurry up the development so that we can see the amazing end result and start showing off to the others that we're so cosmopolitan :D Good thing I like bright lights and metropolitan cities!

If I ever go out walking again across the bridge to the area under development, I'll definitely snap some photos to post here. That area is a budding Manhattan and it's looking promising!

I'm looking forward to living in the charm of a 21st century modern city!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another IND sticker and house renovation photos!

Just got back from an early appointment at the IND to register myself at this home address, and to apply for an ID card. Lots of official looking things to check and fill in, but in the end, it took less than an hour to finish, and I now have another Dutch sticker in my passport, valid for the next 6 months. And then I'll receive some BSN thingy (not sure what it is) in a week, and finally, after 1 to 6 months, I should receive my ID card!

Immigration thingies really are a big hassle.

Anyway, the home is almost back to normal now. I just need to get a few more hangers for my clothes and an office cupboard/shelf to store all our officey stuff.

Here are some photos from the renovation:

First, we had to select the new floors to replace the old carpet.

It's quite posh how they serve tea to you. They give you a box and then you select your flavour. I chose lemon tea but it was rather horrid, even with sugar.

Next, to purchase a big, decent-looking and affordable wardrobe, we headed to IKEA.

Then lunch! And of course, I have to try the Dutch IKEA's Swedish meatballs. Completely different from the ones in KL.

I ordered a 'small' size, okay! Geez, man, what is a 'normal' and what is a 'big'?

And finally, picking up all the bits and pieces of the wardrobe and nightstands we selected. This stupid store didn't have any more stock of the clothes hanging rods though, how inefficient!

We had also decided to have the bedroom walls painted, so we biked REALLY FAR to Praxis. It was about a 30-minute bike ride, but OMG... it was so friggin windy that day, and we were biking AGAINST the wind! It was a flat road, but I friggin felt like I was biking uphill. Daymn! I was seriously panting and puffing and had rubber legs when I dismounted.

We selected a pale grey for the bedroom. Picked up the necessary equipment for painting then headed home, the wind behind us this time. Phew!

Here's a half-painted wall...

... and some ladder photos. It was dark and the ceiling light doesn't reach this far wall, so we brought in the table lamp from the office, creating a moody feel :D

'Course it's still my camera phone, so it's not that awesome. Although, I must say, my camera phone does take some really cool mood photos.

The bedroom walls are not done yet because we decided later on to paint one of the walls a darker colour. Haven't bought that yet, so the project is stalled for the moment.

But here's the Before and After for our living room!

And this is the office. No Before picture, unfortunately.

So nice!

And here's Schrobbenmaster installing the cable management system, in other words, a basket under the table.

My 'new' table has Spring flowers! Remember the little green stubby plant I got from Schrobbenmaster when I arrived in NL two weeks ago? It blossoms out into this lovely plant called Baby Grapes. Not sure if they're otherwise called Bluebells though.